I was at a great celebration of the Virginia Wine Industry this weekend held by the Alumni Association of Virginia Tech. There were a couple of media there that showed great enthusiasm about what Virginia is capable of and it's bright future. It was all and all a fabulous experience.
That said I had one huge issue. The first night that I was there I walked into a fine restaurant in their new conference center on campus for a late bite with my wife Jen and to meet with some of the other winery owners, winemakers and media personnel. We were the first to arrive. I immediately asked what turned out to be the manager of the restaurant what his favorite Virginia Wine was on the list? His answer was "I don't really like Virginia Wines, they are all too sweet." I found the response perplexing since he one new that the table was reserved for a group of Virginia Winery personnel and media and two because it showed his complete ignorance in regards to Virginia Wines and the wines on his list.
There was a very poor showing of Virginia wines on the list to begin with. (Maybe 10 out of about 60 wines, which is pretty sad for the top restaurant on a campus that hosts the Oenology Program that best trains Virginia's wine industry.) Even more so the wines that were on the list were all bone dry and some fantastic, I knew all of the wines. Had he not tried them before selling them. I ordered the White Hall Viognier (without knowing the vintage since the dates were not listed on the list). He returned to the table to let me know that he had no more of either of the Virginia Viognier on the list (White Hall and Chateau Morrisette) but he did have some of the French one left (it was a mass produced Lurton wine from the Languedoc). Interesting, didn't know the wines, or the inventory proving "Hey the sell !!!". I then ordered the Barboursville Pinot Grigio which was a pleasent crisp version with lovely citrus and granny smith notes and a hint of floral characters. It was a great food wine, fabulous with delecate tilapia in a citrus beurre blanc.
My over all take was how can the "so called" finest restaurant on agruable Virginia's top school's campus's, (one of the best and most beautiful in the country) have such poor local pride. This does happen in many restaurants around Virginia that have a lack of education in modern Virginia Wine and still believe they are all created as they were 20 years ago. It is too bad, and now I will never recommend this restaurant to a single individual. I think we all owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to try the produce, cheese, meat or wine that is produced right next to us. It is local pride and it is where most of the worlds best gastronomic experiences and finds are had.